February 1, 2023

Former Venezuelan supreme court judge indicted in Florida on money laundering charges

On January 26, 2023, Maikel Jose Moreno Perez, former president of Venezuela’s supreme court, the Tribunal Supremo de Justicia (TSJ), was charged in a three-count indictment in US District Court for the Southern District of Florida with money laundering, conspiracy to commit money laundering, and engaging in transactions in criminally derived property.

According to the indictment, Moreno Perez was appointed to the TSJ in 2014 and became its president in 2017.  Shortly after his nomination to the court, Moreno Perez allegedly received a bribe payment of approximately $1 million from a contractor in exchange for resolving future criminal and civil cases in a manner favorable to the contractor; this payment was received in Moreno Perez’ personal bank account in Miami.  The indictment further alleges that during the course of his service on the TSJ, Moreno Perez agreed to dismiss an arrest warrant against the contractor, and received additional bribes that resulted in favorable treatment of other contractors, their relatives, and a banker.  As alleged in the indictment, Moreno Perez accepted bribes from civil litigants as well during the period of his service on the TSJ.

The indictment describes transfers of millions of euros and dollars to co-conspirators for the purchase of luxury villas and furnishings in Italy and the Dominican Republic, a building in Venezuela, an apartment in Miami, wire transfers directly to the bank account of Moreno Perez’ spouse, payment of travel expenses, a luxury vehicle, and the hiring of musicians for Moreno Perez’ wedding.  A preceding criminal complaint filed in the Southern District of Florida in March 2020 details many of these transfers.  In May 2017, Moreno Perez was designated by the Office of Foreign Assets Control of the US Department of the Treasury for undermining democratic processes in Venezuela, and as a result, some of his assets were frozen.  On July 21, 2020, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Office of the US Department of Homeland Security offered  a $5 million reward for information leading to Moreno Perez’ arrest or conviction.

DOJ press release | Indictment